“Grant Us That Same Courage” | Postcards from Rome 2019

July 2, 2019

Top highlights of the week (June 24-30):

  1. The Feast of St. John the Baptist
  2. Visit to the Congregation for Divine Worship
  3. St. Clemente and the Baroque Churches
  4. Feast of St. Josemaria Escrivá
  5. The Martyrs of Barbastro

Reflection
Our last week in Rome began with a beautiful Mass to mark the feast of St. John the Baptist: Wonderful chanting from Matt and Jared, while Fr. Dave Keegan reminded us to persevere, be courageous and to remain humble. There was a bittersweet atmosphere among us men, knowing that our pilgrimage was almost over, yet combined with looking forward to returning home. As it was a feast day we wondered if the Sisters would feed us ice-cream for dessert that evening. They did!

I’m so glad I brought a mosquito netting, the last few days it has proven to be particularly necessary. There are many, many things that I will miss once I am back Stateside. Sometimes it’s all about the small things in life, such as the automatic espresso machines at CIAM and at Santa Croce. They have proved to be a source of enormous sustenance, second only to the Holy Eucharist. For only 40 cents, you can’t beat that for a caffeine junkie such as myself. Espresso Macchiato with Ginseng is a particularly good one.

The Sisters have been so good to us and fed us really well. I also found a French restaurant in the center of Rome run by some Sisters from the Missionary Workers of the Immaculate Life Giving Water. The restaurant is called “L’eau Vive”, or Life Giving Water. Their mission is evangelization through outreach projects such as schools, but also through their restaurant which serves as a source for funding. The food is phenomenal which prompted me to go twice! At the end of the evening they dance then we all join them in singing Ave Maria. It’s a wonderful experience that touches the soul as well as filling your stomach. There was a tangible sense of the holy there.

We visited the Congregation for Divine Worship and were presented with an explanation of what they do by Fr. Oxley. Very interesting. What we were hoping for, but not expecting was to meet Cardinal Sarah, the prefect for the CDW. As we were heading out he was there and we had a chance to shake his hand and he gave us a blessing. We were all star-struck by meeting him and there was a palpable buzz amongst us as we left. We are all big fans of the Cardinal and can’t wait to read his latest book. The famous Gelato run was won by Jared, so clearly a man of many talents: chanting and running. The event drew a crowd of curious spectators, tourists who were baffled by a group of hooting and hollering Seminarians crowded around the Obelisk in the center of St. Peter’s.

We visited St. Clemente, famous for its House Church remains below it, as well as visiting the Baroque Churches: Chiesa Nuova, St. Andrea del Valle, St. Ignazio, and (my favorite) San Giovanni de Florentini. That evening we attended the Mass of St. Josemaria Escrivá in San Eugenio; a very beautiful Mass, all in Latin except the Homily, and positively breathtaking. At the end of the service we had the opportunity to venerate a relic of St. Escrivá.

On Friday we left for Spain to begin the final leg of our pilgrimage and to process the entire thing. It’s been an intense time so we needed the time to decompress, to gather our thoughts and to begin the psychological transition from a pilgrimage mind-set to one preparing for the next year of Seminary. We visited Montserrat, Torreciudad, an opportunity to make a day of reflection before flying home, the Basilica of our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragoza to venerate the pillar, and finally a visit to the former Seminary in Barbastro, where the Seminarians, their priests and professors were martyred along with some others. It is always fitting, especially as we come to the end of our Rome Experience to reflect continuously on the price we must be prepared to pay in service to our Lord; to pay the ultimate sacrifice. While our trip has brought us in contact with many fine martyrs in the history of the Church, it’s always the more poignant when you can relate to them and realizing that their martyrdom was only some 80 years ago. May the Lord grant us that same courage shown by the martyrs of Barbastro, if we find ourselves in a similar situation.

Charles Wilton
The Rome Experience Class of 2019
Diocese of Arlington
Mount St. Mary’s Seminary